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Baptists respond to Sandy’s furycomment (0)

November 8, 2012

Baptists respond to Sandy’s fury

As needs kept rolling in, Fritz Wilson said he only knew one thing to do. 

He called for all large-capacity mobile kitchens east of the Rocky Mountains to come and feed victims of “post-tropical” cyclone Sandy — an unprecedented move for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR). A group of 80 Alabama Baptists was set to join the ranks in New York on Nov. 3.

“As we worked through the planning and continued to receive reports about the need, the conviction came on me that Southern Baptists need to step out in faith and mobilize now,” said Wilson, executive director of North American Mission Board (NAMB) Disaster Relief. “I contacted [NAMB] President Kevin Ezell and shared the conviction of our area command team and he agreed.”

The goal was to begin preparing a minimum of 400,000 meals a day by Nov. 5. During the height of SBDR response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, volunteers prepared 425,000 meals per day. 


It is expected that Alabama’s feeding unit will provide between 20,000 and 25,000 meals a day for victims and volunteers. Of the 80 Alabama Baptists set to go to New York, 50 were to work in the feeding unit. The others were set to serve in assessment, chain saw and cleanup, mud out, shower, laundry, child care and chaplaincy.

“When Alabama was devastated by tornadoes last year, teams from a dozen states came to our aid,” said Mel Johnson, Alabama Baptist disaster relief strategist. “Likewise we want to be there for our neighbors in the Northeast in their time of greatest need.”

With winds spanning 1,100 miles, Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record before it made landfall. Nearly 90 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the storm, which slammed into New Jersey on Oct. 29 after making landfall in parts of the Caribbean. 

In eastern Cuba, 11 people were killed when Hurricane Sandy hit on Oct. 25. The storm devastated the city of Santiago, affecting nearly 70 percent of the area, news reports said. The storm destroyed 15,000 homes and damaged some 115,000 others. Many of the 150 churches and 200 house churches affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba were damaged; some were destroyed. The convention’s seminary and home for the elderly sustained damage.

Cuban Baptists began working to meet needs as soon as the storm subsided, according to the International Mission Board.

In the northeast United States, the number of people who remain unaccounted for is unknown. Tensions were rising Nov. 1 as electricity remained off for nearly 5 million customers and access to basic necessities grew more difficult.

On Nov. 1, SBDR volunteers from Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina were serving in New York and New Jersey, along with volunteers from the affected states. SBDR volunteers from those states and the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, Maryland-Delaware, New England, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and West Virginia were preparing up to 150,000 meals and were working with chain saw and recovery units.

To stay up-to-date on the work of Alabama Baptist disaster relief volunteers in the Northeast and to donate funds to the effort, visit www.SBDR.org/sandy.


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